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Marlin mini-team to meet Clinton

The World Series champions were to go to the White House to meet President Clinton today. He doesn't need a large room for the get-together.

"I don't know who's going; I'm just glad I'm going," catcher Charles Johnson said Monday at Melbourne, Fla., after the first Florida Marlin workout since the Series.When Florida's pitchers and catchers reported, many of last year's stars were missing, traded or cut in owner H. Wayne Huizenga's payroll purge.

Gone were Kevin Brown, Al Leiter, Tony Saunders, Robb Nen and Dennis Cook, three-fifths of the starting rotation and the top two relievers in the bullpen. Missing was Alex Fernandez, probably out for the season following shoulder surgery.

Leiter sounded angry as he reported to the New York Mets' camp in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

"Any time you win, you would like to think you could come back and defend the crown," he said. "It was a great nucleus, a great team. I signed a three-year contract there to stay and play for the Marlins. When the exodus started, I realized maybe it's not the best thing to stick around since they were trying to get rid of everybody."

In Fort Myers, Fla., Pedro Martinez also had to deal with change. After going 17-8 with a league-best 1.90 ERA and 305 strikeouts, Martinez was traded from Montreal to the Boston Red Sox, who signed him to a record $75 million, six-year contract.

Mike Piazza, angry the Los Angeles Dodgers didn't give him a multiyear contract extension, said in Vero Beach, Fla., he won't negotiate until after filing for free agency this fall.

"Obviously, I'm a little disappointed," said Piazza, thought to be seeking $100 million or more. "But I've dealt with it. I'm fine as far as my state of mind. I'm ready to play this year. That's it."

New York Yankees center fielder Bernie Williams also has vowed to file for free agency after the season. He is asking for a raise from $5.3 million to $9 million, which would be a record for a one-year contract. The Yankees are offering $7.5 million, and agent Scott Boras has said Williams isn't interested in negotiating a settlement before Wednesday's arbitration hearing in Phoenix.

"Bernie doesn't want to cause a distraction anymore than we want to have one, but we know it's going to be one for a time," Yankees manager Joe Torre said in Tampa, Fla. "Anytime you don't talk, it's not a good sign."

Because of yet another day of rain, Toronto worked out indoors at Dunedin, Fla.

"I'm ready to go," said Roger Clemens, who won his fourth AL Cy Young Award last season. "I'm excited about being down here, but sad about leaving home. It's getting tougher each year."

In Winter Haven, Fla., Cleveland decided it wanted competition at second base, so it agreed to a $400,000, one-year contract with Shawon Dunston, who'll try to beat out Carlos Garcia.

"It gives you another all-star caliber player," manager Mike Hargrove said. "I've found that shortstops are usually some of the best athletes on your team and are very adaptable."